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Bad Breath- What is Delusional Halitosis

Jan 20, 2008
The phrase delusional halitosis is somewhat self-explanatory, delusional meaning something that is only in your mind, and halitosis meaning bad breath. So then, what is delusional halitosis? The thought or fear that you have bad breath when in reality you don't. Delusional halitosis affects approximately 1% of the population or less, so it is not a common disorder, however, it's thought that the majority of patients that seek treatment for halitosis have delusional halitosis- in other words, they believe that they have a problem when they really don't.

The question of what is delusional halitosis may arise when one considers the physical delusions that are more common such as delusional skin infestation by insects, and body dysmorphic disorder, where one thinks that their hands or limbs are not really theirs, or are constantly disappointed with their own looks. Persons with body dysmorphic disorder may become addicted to plastic surgery or other such procedures.

Body dysmorphic disorder may also manifest itself with the thoughts that there is something wrong with one's body when there isn't. A sufferer can become obsessed with these thoughts to the point of visiting physicians constantly and needlessly.

So, what is delusional halitosis in relation to these other physical delusions? A very real thought that one's breath is so bad that is making one sick or making other people sick. Just like someone with the delusional thoughts of one's skin is infested with insects really sees and feels those insects, delusional halitosis sufferers really smell what they think is bad breath.

Is Delusional Halitosis a True Phobia?

When discussing what is delusional halitosis, it's important to remember that this is very similar or identical to halitophobia, the fear of exhaling because you think you have bad breath. The two go hand-in-hand. When you understand what is delusional halitosis, you understand how someone with this disorder can develop a phobia against exhaling or speaking.

Phobias are not to be taken lightly. Imagine any real fear that most people have- fear of heights, fear of snakes, fear of enclosed places, and so on. No one would easily dismiss another person's fear of snakes so easily. When considering what is delusional halitosis, realize that the fear can be just as real and just as debilitating. There is no time when you are not breathing and exhaling. Having a fear of one's own mouth and breath can be devastating and render one almost incapacitated.

What is Delusional Halitosis Sufferers' Quality of Life?

Delusional halitosis can become a full-blown phobia and can begin to interfere with one's job or life in general. Some who have this phobia avoid work and any other social situation in general. They may lose their job and have difficulties with intimate physical relationships. They avoid any social situation that brings them into close contact with others.

When asking what is delusional halitosis in terms of life quality, bear in mind that some with this disorder have been found to be abusive of oral hygiene products, overusing mouthwashes and rinses. Some are so obsessed with cleaning their teeth that they floss and brush until they are raw and bleeding. Many seek repeated treatment for bad breath, causing them to be over-treated by doctors. Since harsh chemicals, mouthwashes and rinses can actually dry one's mouth and aggravate oral problems and cause bad breath, this becomes a never-ending circle of treatment, phobia, treatment, phobia, and so on. When considering what is delusional halitosis' risk in terms of physical health, you see how much damage can be done to one's teeth and gums, and when this happens, it's not unusual for the mouth to become infected and tooth loss to occur. Open sores and wounds of the mouth are breeding grounds for bacteria and infection.

What is Delusional Halitosis and Olfactory Reference Syndrome?

Olfactory Reference Syndrome (ORS) is an overly excessive concern for one's body odors, and delusional halitosis may fall under this category. Persons with ORS believe that they have a foul or excessive body odor, despite any evidence or reassurance to the contrary. They too can have shame, embarrassment, social avoidance disorders, distress, depression and the like.

So when asking what is delusional halitosis, it's good to remember that it may be just an offshoot or manifestation of ORS, and the two can be treated as the same. ORS and delusional halitosis are sometimes also thought to be manifestations of body dysmorphic disorder, or being obsessed with the thought that there is something wrong with one's body when there really isn't.

What is Delusional Halitosis' Treatment?

It's sad that only a handful of doctors have addressed this problem and acknowledged the need for treatment. Many patients are dismissed, as are those with phobias that are outside the norm. However, when discussing what is delusional halitosis and realizing the difficulty that its sufferers can have in everyday life, and realizing that this is a true-blown phobia, doctors would then be taking the first step toward treating it properly. Many persons with phobias are treated with anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants. Prozac and Xanax are two popular prescriptions for those with depression or anxiety, and both seem to work well for most patients. However, there is a risk of dependency with both, so you would need to make a decision about whether or not you want to take that risk, and be sure you're in constant communication with your doctor.

When considering what is delusional halitosis' treatment options without medication, cognitive behavior therapy, or training oneself to think and feel differently, can also be successful. Patients are taught to think differently about the situation or circumstance that gives them fear, and learn to talk themselves out of their phobias, so to speak. Only a doctor or therapist can successfully treat those with delusional halitosis. If searching for a physician, make sure he or she really understands what is delusional halitosis and is willing to treat it rather than dismiss it, or that he or she specializes in phobias of all types.
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Do you have halitophobia? Learn how to deal with halitophobia with our bad breath resource site.
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